Successful content marketing programs are ongoing communications efforts that empathize with customers and deliver useful experiences. Each content object published is a promise to the community that something relevant, useful and info-raining is in store.
Consistently producing content experiences that inform and inspire creates one of the most powerful customer states: anticipation. Few things are more powerful for attracting a loyal following of customers and advocates than the anticipation to see what’s coming next.
But how can companies with slim budgets create such a content marketing program? While there are entire books on the subject, I think these are the 5 essential components for initiating a growing momentum of content awesome.
1. Identify customer segments – Start with something as simple as best and worst customer scenarios. What are the common characteristics of the customers you want to do business with? What distinguishes the need or reason to buy your products and services for one group of customers compared to another? What are the demographic and behavioral differences amongst groups of customers? Create profiles or personas for each distinct customer group.
2. Map the buying journey – For each customer segment, what are their preferences for information discovery, consumption and taking action? What channels are influential during the buying cycle? Do they use search? Do they use social? Do they respond to paid or social ads? Do they subscribe? What is it like for them to buy from you from awareness to interest to consideration to purchase. Map it out – for each customer segment.
3. What questions do buyers have during the sales cycle? – Every customer has questions that lead them to purchase. What are your customers asking? For each customer segment and each customer journey from awareness to purchase, identify the important questions your buyers need answered into order to gain the confidence and certainty needed to buy from you. Survey your customers, look at your on-site search engine for logged queries to find questions used as search terms, look at social networks for relevant common questions as well.
4. Leverage those Q & A’s for your content plan – The most fundamental and impactful thing a business with little marketing resources can do to create awesome content marketing results is to answer the questions customers have as they go from awareness to purchase. BUT: Don’t just inform your customers, help them feel that your business is the best answer by providing experiences. Articles are great, but videos, interactive tools and engagement with other customers in the same situation is even better.
5. Optimize for search, social, and user experience – Don’t fall victim to random acts of marketing disease. Organize your content Q and A according to customer segment and how they will discover, consume and be inspired to act on your content. Optimize your content for what buyers are searching for – use the language of the active buyer, who is looking for solutions. Optimize for social discovery and sharing too. Also optimize to info-tain and to create a great user experience. Make it easy to find the right information and for buyers to act with speed and convenience. Solve information problems with your content but also create great experiences when finding, consuming and acting on that content as well.
If you have to, start small focusing on your best customer segment with a blog, video and one or two social networks. Walk before you run and develop some kind of hypothesis for your initial experiments with answers based content. Just understand that these 5 steps are the content marketing muscles you’ll need to exercise on a regular basis to create momentum, anticipation and content awesome that builds community and grows revenue.